Some consider it merely a cooking technique. Others a way of life. Mise en place, a french term meaning 'put in place' or 'everything in its place' is one of the first techniques taught to and practiced by virtually every professional chef. In a restaurant, the fresh herbs and vegetables are chopped, the sauces and stocks are cooked, the meats are marinated and the cheese is grated all before the first order hits the kitchen. In fact, pre-organizing the ingredients and tools needed for a recipe helps streamline the cooking process in the home kitchen as well as the professional restaurant. Check out the tips below on how to cut down on your time and stress in the kitchen.
* Review The Recipe - Reading the recipe ahead of time will avoid those last minute trips to the store for that missing ingredient when you're in the middle of your masterpiece. It also gives you a chance to lay out the knives, graters, peelers etc you need before getting started.
* Clean The Work Area - Not just for neatness sake, but cleaning and sanitizing the work area prior to starting helps eliminate cross contamination and foreign matter from invading your recipe. Also, clean as you cook. Unless you're planning to throw away all of your dishes once you're done (it's tempting) clean your pots and pans as you go. You won't be sorry.
* Prep Your Ingredients - If you're a fan of Food Network (as we are) you've noticed the cooks almost always have their ingredients in neat little containers already measured out and ready to be added to the recipe. While you can buy small containers for this purpose, we've found that custard cups or bowls work fine as well. The main goal is to pre- measure, cut, slice and dice all ingredients prior to starting. Lining the ingredients up in the order they will be used can be helpful too.
* Don't Forget... - to soften the butter, crack the eggs, bring the meat up to room temperature. Also, de-bone the chicken, slice the chops and fillet the fish. Any and all tasks called out for in the recipe, no matter how small, will reduce your time in the kitchen if you complete them ahead of time.
Whether you're making a simple cake or preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 20, Mise en place will help you cook like a pro and make your kitchen run like a well oiled machine.
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